Quinoa Summer Salad

A recently rediscovered ancient “grain” (quinoa is actually more similar to a seed) native to South America, quinoa was once called “the gold of the Incas” who recognized its value in increasing the stamina of their warriors. Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids.  Not only is quinoa’s amino acid profile well balanced, making it a good choice for vegans and vegetarians concerned about adequate protein intake, but quinoa is especially well-endowed with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. In addition to protein, quinoa features a host of other health-building nutrients. Manganese, magnesium, foliate, and phosphorus are some examples.  Quinoa has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty or earthy flavor when cooked.

Ingredients:
Quinoa, 2 cups dry (will expand when cooked)
2  T lemon juice

1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1/3  of a red onion, diced
1/3 jar roasted bell peppers

4 oz -8 oz Feta Cheese (amount depends on how much you like cheese!)

Dressing:
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
Juice from one lemon
Fresh herbs (we suggest ½ bunch parsley, washed and chopped, and some washed and snip mint leaves)

Directions:

Rinse quinoa well.  (Quinoa can have a coating of bitter-tasting saponins that you want to be sure to remove).  For easier digestion, you can soak your grains.  The method is to leave grains covered with non-chlorinated water, plus an acidic medium, for about 7-8 hours (a longer time is okay too).  The amount of acidic medium is 1 tablespoon for every 1 cup of grains.  Your best choices for an acidic medium are lemon juice or vinegar.   Quinoa is one of the easier grains to digest (along with Amaranth, Brown Rice, Buckwheat, and Millet) because it contains less phytates than other grains. Cook the quinoa in a rice cooker as the easiest cooking method.

Add all remaining ingredients except for the cheese, and stir to combine.  Serve with feta sprinkled over the top.  Enjoy!

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